Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I've had a rough week. My 11 yo daughter suffered a severe puncture wound from a bike brake lever a week ago today while we were camping. I have never seen so much blood in my life; I thought she had hit the artery and I was going to watch my child die on the ground. It was the scariest day of my life. Fortunately, fast-forward past the ambulance ride, stitches, possible infection and later surgery to reopen and re-clean the wound, drain tube, crutches, lots of pain meds and antibiotics, and she seems to be on the mend.
The nights were always the hardest. Everything seems darker and scarier at night, even when you're in a hospital surrounded by medical professionals who know just what to do.
Today I went for my first run since the accident, and as I was finishing up, the sun came out in all its glory, completely blinding me to everything except the immediate and beautiful countryside around me. I felt so calm, and like I knew everything would finally be okay. Exercise is such a great stress reliever all on its own, but coupled with the beautiful dawn, I felt so peaceful and immediately thought of Psalm 30: "At nightfall, weeping enters in; but with the dawn, rejoicing."
The challenge is remembering not to let the darkness close in on us. Beauty and peace is there, even when unseen.
I hope all my fellow sparkers have a wonderful, beautiful day!!!
picture from my run this morning
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Most of us are used to being called occasionally at work with the request, "Can you pick up a gallon of milk on your way home?" So, what do I mean by "Can you drop a gallon of milk?"
I once heard someone who was embarked on a weight loss journey describe it as dropping "x" gallons of milk. A gallon of milk weighs somewhere around 9+ pounds. So she just rounded it to 10. One day she realized at her current weight she was carrying the equivalent of 15 gallons of milk around all day, all the time.
Think about it. What if someone loaded you up with 15 gallons of milk and you had to carry it all day? Whoa. That would be hard.
Sometimes, when I've let the scale creep up on me, I'll pick up a half gallon of milk or a gallon (depending on how much it's creeped up) and I'll think, "If I focus on nutrition and not mindlessly eating, I can drop this and my running will be that much easier, comfortable and faster!"
I find the metaphor to be motivating. Just thought I'd share.
Saturday, June 29, 2013
I was, shall we say, a rather late bloomer when it came to physical maturity. While this frustrated me at the time, I must say I am rather glad now. It seems many of the girls who were rather voluptuous in junior high and high school developed weight problems later on. Well, so has the rest of America in general. Who knows if there is a correlation or not. That could be a topic for another time.
When it comes to fitness, I have felt at times like I did in junior high. I starting running (at age 32), and it seemed like I would never be fast like some of the people I admired. However, with consistent workouts, I started to narrow the gap and occasionally even beat someone I previously thought I could never catch. I even managed to BQ (qualify for the Boston Marathon) at age 40, something that seemed unreachable when I started.
I'm 43 years old now, and wonder, just how good could I get if I were to be really serious about training? Is it too late for me? Am I as good as I'm going to get? Am I too old to be a late bloomer? Or should I just simply settle not to be an "early wilter"?
Sunday, March 17, 2013
I didn't realize quite how health-conscious I have become until today at Wal-Mart. My husband and I went shopping together. Here is our cart.
You might think, "How on EARTH could they eat so much garbage????"
Well, the answer is: we're not. I felt downright embarrassed pushing that cart around. I wanted to put a sign on it or tell anyone who might be eyeing it what I was purchasing all this stuff for.
I am captaining an Aid Station this coming Saturday (March 23) at the Terrapin Mountain 50K in the picturesque Blue Ridge Mountains of Bedford County, Virginia. This kind of race is called an ultra marathon, because it's longer than the marathon distance of 26.2 miles.
Ultra runners are out there on the trail all day and they need calories. Lots of them. I think in a 50K, I personally burn about 3,000 calories. So, the aid station captains need to buy (here's the list):
Candy Bars (don't forget M&M's)
Five 2-liter bottles of Pepsi/Coke
Five 2-liter bottles of Mountain Dew
2 extra jugs of water
(We are provided with powder to make electrolyte replacement drink, and we also have 2 coolers of water)
Other things that are also popular:
Twinkies (obviously this list was made before Hostess closed up shop)
Baked potatoes with salt
In addition, we need to make sure we have aspirin, IcyHot, Tums, Vaseline, band-aids, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, and I forget what all else. I'm writing this blog from memory.
You might be surprised this is what ultra runners eat during a race, because you might think they are health nuts who would never put such junk in their body. Yes, typically this (former - hopes to be again) ultra runner does eat pretty healthfully. But in a 50K (or longer) race, I eat whatever is there. Reese's PB cups never taste better than when you eat them after covering 40 miles of mountainous terrain.
So, do you ever want an excuse to binge on Reese cups or Oreos? Run an ultra! Links below.
Mountain Masochist 50-miler
Promise Land 50K
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
"Slow and steady wins the race."
You probably heard this at least once in your life in the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare. The hare, in his overconfidence, loses the race to the slow tortoise. Of course, the race in that fable is a metaphor for how we live our lives. In a real footrace, rarely does the tortoise win. Someone unexpected might win, if one of the hares misjudges how they're feeling and can't finish strong, but usually there are plenty of other hares to snag the win and all the glory.
However, enter the Goode Predict-Your-Time Milk & Cookies Handicap 4-miler, where the tortoise legitimately has a chance to win. The local high school cross country coach (who has coached to several state titles) came up with this idea years ago. The idea was to award the person who could most accurately run the pace he or she predicted. It didn't matter if you thought you could run 4 miles in 24 minutes or walk it in 68. Whoever was the closest to their prediction would win. The clock counts down instead of up, so those who predict a slower time get a head start on the others. Whoever comes in closest to 00:00 wins. No one feels like a "straggler" in this race, and if we all ran a perfect race, we'd converge on the finish line together, in one grand finish.
I participated in this race this past Saturday, March 9th. Last year, I finished 4th, and that was only +2 seconds off my prediction! Others came in at 00:00, +01 and -01. This year, I hadn't been running very well, and had two very bad runs the two days prior to the race.
Normally I am very good at gauging my pace from my perceived rate of exertion (which I can tell from my breathing). This year, I knew I had no way to tell. I optimistically put down 38:28 as my finishing time.
The course is quite hilly. The first mile is pretty much downhill, but then you have rolling hills, a good stretch of uphill at mile 3, and a big down and up for mile 4.
I was elated to come in 2:16 ahead of my prediction, for a 9:03/mile pace. Of course, this meant no award for me, but it was a great REward to have finished even better than I hoped.
The winner of the race this year predicted 40 minutes flat. The 3rd, 4th and 5th place finishers had predicted 60 minutes. Even if I had finished slower than my predicted time, this race reminds us all that the real reward is simply being out there - some of us already fit, others on our way to achieving fitness.
After all, "The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running."
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